I did something out of character today

I got my driving license.

All my life I’ve managed without being able to drive, and I’ve had very little interest in driving a car. My jobs have generally involved air-travel if I needed to travel, or like the last 10 years a commute into Central London that no sane person would choose to do in a car.

But as a family we have had a car (or rather cars) for way too many years, and in the area we live in kids generally need to be taken to events and picked up by car, so in the end I gave in….

So at the age of 52 I was the oldest at the test this morning by at least 30 years…

Our son will strangely enough start taking lessons in a few weeks.

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Police in Trondheim – Norway stopped guy moving

I found this story in the local newspaper in Trondheim – Norway : Stoppet enormt flyttelass : For those of you that do not speak norwegian I have taken the opportunity to illustrate it with a picture from the newspaper


He apparently had his sofa and washing machine along….

The police were not impressed – and told him to get a trailer…

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Camden today

We went up to Camden market today – and it was bigger than I ever remembered it, and even more busy. One of the more pleasant aspect of the market is the large number of food stalls selling dishes from all over the world.

(Click for larger)

The view down the lock


New blocks of flat – you could not get closer to the water if you tried!


View from the bridge over the lock


A small part of the lock with moorings


First stop – for pancakes with banana and chocolate or maple syrup (on of each). Little did we know about the size when we ordered, she used a whole banana per pancake)





Interesting attire – I did no realise until afterwards that this was a “no photography” area. Why??


Lots of good food!


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What I’ve just been reading

I’ve been reading quite a lot lately, between long-distance travelling, my daily commute and so on. One of the more pleasant new surprises was

“Against the Tide (Council of War S.)” (John Ringo) – a science fiction series set in the future after a devastating war, where primitive technologies and cutting edge remains of their past exist side by side.


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What I’ve just finished

“Death Masks (Dresden Files)” (Jim Butcher)

This turn out to be a reasonably standalone book in a series about the only wizard in Chicago, struggling to make ends meet financially, while working freelance for the police department.

Not the best book I’ve read lately, but good enough to keep me alert during my commute, and to make me want to buy at least one more of the series.

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Mac Mini – speedup

I have for a long time been slightly concerned about the load our Mac Mini is under as a file/web server, and done quite a lot to try to tune it, but the absolutely biggest gain I have seen came from adding SoftRaid to the box, and mirroring the internal drive to 2 external drives.

The background for this is that the internal drive in a Mini is a typical “laptop” harddisk, which leaves a bit to be desired in speed. So one option would of course be to boot off a external (faster) disk. But being to lazy (and for a few other reasons that mainly have to do with the vulnerability of external disk cables) I decided to go down the RAID route.

This does absolutely nothing for write speeds to the disk(s) – as a matter of fact it probably reduces this. But on a typical server you will have several times as many reads from the disks as you have writes to them, and this is where a RAID solution shines, as it will distribute reads across all the mirrored disk, leading to a phenomenal increase in read speed.

And on a typical Mac this will include read access to the UNIX swap space, which resides on the boot disk unless you manually move this to a different harddisk (not a bad idea btw.).

But as a lazy and quick speed increase solution I find little wrong with SoftRAID, and after 2 weeks of use I have yet to see a single problem with SoftRAID – so I really do recommend this.

As a interesting feature SoftRAID allows you to do mirroring (and striping) between disks on different bus’es, something that comes in handy on a mini, as the internal disk is directly connected to a ATA bus, and in my case the external disks are connected to both USB and Firewire bus’es. Of course these days we tend to buy big external disks (the last disk I bought was a 300 Gb disk for less than £100), and as my internal disk is only 80 Gb, I only use 80Gb of each external disk for mirroring, the rest can be used for conventional storage if so desired.

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